This is a short story based on a minor villian in my first book Tony and the Tamers. She will be a bigger part of book two. I hope you enjoy it!
The girl jerked awake at the sound of screaming. Immediately after that, she realized the earth was heaving. A particularly sudden quake threw her from her bed and on to the dirt floor. Dirt flew up around her as the earth shook. Knickknacks fell to the floor and she heard dishes shatter.
“Great, I’m going to have to clean all of this up,” she mumbled angrily as the earth rolled again.
She heard a small voice calling her name from the only other room in the tiny house. She scrambled to her feet, desperate to reach her sister. The screaming intensified as the earth shook. She muttered under her breath as she dodged falling rubble. The house was going to come down any second. Borla fought to maintain her balance with every step. The voice called again, weaker this time. She could not understand why it was taking so long to reach the room, time seemed to be moving in slow motion.
She growled in frustration when she found the door blocked by the heavy dining room table. Without hesitation, she blasted the door away with her dark blue flames. The smoking table fell away. Borla knew she would be punished if anyone saw what she had just done.
“If anyone is still alive after this,” she thought grimly.
Borla threw her weight against the door until it groaned open. Her heart sank at the sight before her. In the place where the room should have been, was a gaping black hole. As she stared down into the blackness, the earth continued to shake. She knew without a doubt that her sister was at the bottom of the hole. The last real family she had was gone. Tears ran down her cheeks as she contemplated following her sister. She took one numb step towards the hole before something pulled her back.
The man who owned the house was running out of the tumbling building with Borla over his shoulder. She watched in horror as the hole grew, swallowing more of the house until the entire thing was gone. He set her down on the street and ran in to a neighboring house. He quickly returned with a child in tow.
“Borla, take anyone you can find and get out of the village,” he yelled, pulling her roughly to her feet.
She hesitated until he shoved her again. She grabbed the child’s hand and forced him to run with her. She tried to block out the cries for help as they ran. She blasted falling rubble out of their path, no longer caring who saw. It would not matter who saw if they died trying to escape. The boy stumbled along beside her, whimpering every time the blue fire lit up the sky. He had heard tales about her, but no one had ever actually seen what she could do.
Borla’s face twisted in to a menacing grin as she heard his whimpers. She did not know how she had ended up in this village. Every time she tried to get an answer, she was punished. No one in the village seemed to want her to find out. According to her adoptive father, one morning she had just appeared in the village square. Her father had been assigned to watch over her. Her life was normal, until she started shooting flames.
Her father did not know what to do, so he isolated her and forbade her from telling anyone what she could do. Borla always resented him. She knew he was holding her back from reaching her full potential as surely as she knew her sister was dead. She knew she was meant for more then this tiny village.
She looked back scornfully as the boy fell. He sobbed loudly as the earth started to shake even harder. They were so close to reaching the forest. She looked around as more houses were swallowed up. She tugged at the boy’s arms, but he was frozen with fear.
“Get up now, or I am leaving you here,” she hissed.
He watched in terror as flames crackled along her fingers. Somehow he found the strength to stand up. His bloody knees ached from the fall as he stood. He flinched as she grabbed his arm and pulled him behind her. The tall girl terrified him almost as much as the never ending earthquake. The screams faded with every step they took. He ran in to Borla’s back when she suddenly stopped running.
His heart thumped so loudly in his ears that he did not realize the screams were gone completely. The earth had finally stopped heaving and the sink holes did not grow any larger. An eerie silence fell over what remained of the village, broken by the occasional structure falling. They were the last two people left alive. They had lost everyone but each other. He shuddered as he looked up at Borla. She was the only person alive who he knew now.
Borla listened for any hint of survivors. The only thing she heard was the boy sniffling at her side. A wave of anger washed over her. She was left with him, a lowly villager who had ostracized her. Her sister had died and now she was left with him.
“Go check the houses for supplies, we are leaving,” she ordered him callously.
He jumped at her hard tone and scrambled to obey. The image of what her flames could do was seared into his mind. When he reached the door of the closest house, he entered slowly. The walls shifted as he searched. He grabbed everything that he could and shoved it in a bag.
Borla stood in the middle of the broken street, contemplating her next move. She knew that there was a huge city a few days east of them. There had to be survivors there that could help them. They might even know what had caused the earth to quake. She knew that the earthquake and sinkholes were not a natural disaster. At the very least, someone who could take the child off of her hands. He would serve his purpose and then she would get rid of him.
Her mouth twitched slightly as the boy inched closer to her with the supplies. She did not know his name and did not care to learn it. He would be gone soon enough.
“Let’s go,” she said, turning on her heel and walking away.
Borla did not even glance back to make sure he was following her. If he decided to stay behind, then it was one less thing for her to worry about. She had over heard rumors about the people in the east. They were witches who rode on huge flying beasts. Everyone in the village feared them. People like that might be able to tell her where she came from.
The boy looked back at the village sadly as they entered the forest. He had spent his whole life in that village and now it was a crumbling husk of its former self. All he had left were the memories, everything else had been buried in the earth. His childhood ended as soon as the sinkhole took his family. He stared at the strange girl’s back trying to work up the courage to speak to her. All of the children had been warned to stay away from the outsider.
“Wh-where are we going,” he finally managed to say.
Borla’s features contorted as her anger crept back up. Everyone in that awful village had been the same. A cowardly lot too afraid of the unknown and unwilling to accept anyone different from them. She ignored the question for the time being and marched deeper in to the forest. She set a grueling pace, ready to put as much distance between herself and that cursed village as she could. Her heart ached dully at the loss of her sister, but she pushed her feelings aside. Mourning would not bring her sister back, nothing would.
“We will sleep here tonight. I’ll get a fire started while you set up camp,” she told the boy.
The boy shied away as she shot the flames at a small pile of twigs. He did not think he would ever get used to seeing her do that. It was unnatural. He set up camp without saying a word. When they were settled in for the night, he passed her the bag of food. Borla could not help but chuckle at the boy’s fear. She could use that to get what she needed.
As the darkness closed in around them, the noises of the forest grew. Borla built up the fire until the darkness was pushed back. They took turns sleeping and watching the fire. The boy tossed and turned restlessly, plagued with nightmares about earthquakes. She slept peacefully for the first time in years, no longer afraid of anyone coming for her in the night.
When the first rays of light started peeking through the leaves, she shook the boy awake. They ate quickly and started marching again. The boy asked again where they were going.
“We are going to the Tamer’s city.”
The look of absolute terror on his face made it impossible for her to hide her glee.
“They might know what caused the quake and where I came from. You can stay with them, I’m sure they will treat outsiders the way they deserve.”
The boy started crying again, but the thought never crossed his mind to not follow her. He had never been alone before.
After walking for two days, they finally started to see some signs of civilization. The towns they walked through where just as destroyed as the village had been. They walked through villages that were still smoldering. The acrid smoke burned their eyes and lungs. The longer they walked the bigger the villages became going from small villages to cities, until they reached the center of what used to be the biggest city they had ever seen.
The boy searched house after house, but there was no survivors. Borla began to worry that they were the last two people anywhere. She would never be able to find out where she came from. Here and there along the streets were long scorch marks. The only explanation that she could think of was that someone was throwing fire. That was impossible though.
“I’m alone, who else could do something like this,” she wondered.
In one building they found a library. Borla told the boy to set up camp while she explored some more. The deeper she searched in to the building, the more she felt drawn towards a specific spot. Her eyes fell on an old book that was covered in dust. She opened the book, unsure of what to expect. The first page had a depiction of a Tamer. Her heart raced as she studied the picture. Flames spread out from the tall man’s hands as a flying monster reared behind him.
“I’m a Tamer,” she whispered in disbelief.
She tucked the book under her arm and made her way back to the boy. She looked down on his sleeping form with disgust. He did not even wait until she returned to fall asleep. Rather then wake him, she settled in and began reading further in to the book.
“A Tamer’s flames can be used to control animals and, if the need arises, humans. The control should be minor, pushing too hard can twist the animals brain and leave them unable to survive on their own. A Tamer should use their telepathy to judge how far an animal can be pushed before they break.”
She paused over the word telepathy. She had always been able to sense things about people, but she had never read someone’s mind before. Borla stared at the boy, trying to let everything but him fall out of her thoughts. She scowled as nothing happened.
“Perhaps he has to be awake,” she thought.
She tried to read further, but her eyelids grew heavy and eventually sleep took her.
Borla jerked awake after what seemed like five minutes, but the sun rising outside proved she had slept through the night. The boy was already up and making a meager breakfast. He kept his eyes on the ground as he passed her some food. She was surprised at his subservient nature until she saw the book laying open on the ground. The picture of the Tamer was clearly visible.
Without a word, she ate and then they started walking again. Borla was unsure where she was going, but she knew it was the right way. Around midday, they found a building that was completely untouched. The walls stood tall and sturdy. They walked up to the door and knocked loudly.
The boy crouched behind Borla as the door slowly swung open. He knew what she was, but he felt like if she meant to harm him she would have done it already. His heart leaped as an average looking man greeted them. He lead them in to a room and motioned for them to sit.
“I did not think anyone had survived the quakes and the fires,” the man said suspiciously. “My name is Seema. How did you come to this place.”
“We are from a village. I thought that if any Tamers were still alive they could help us.” Borla answered carefully.
“What good are Tamers? They could not even save themselves from my little show,” Seema cackled crazily.
The boy started to shake fearfully. He grabbed Borla’s arm to steady himself, forgetting for a second what she was.
“Your show? Did you do this? How? I needed the Tamers to teach me,” Borla whispered.
“I am greater then any Tamer! I killed them all,” Seema watched for a reaction from the pair.
Borla felt like everything was lost. She was the last Tamer left. No one could teach her now. As the hopeless weight pressed down on her, her anger surged. The dark blue flames began to race along her fingertips. She was going to make this man pay. However, when she looked into his cold eyes, she did not see fear. She saw him studying and watching her every move, her fire disappeared in confusion.
“I know what you are,” Seema spoke. “I know the pain you are feeling right now. The Tamers let you down, they abandoned you and judged you unworthy of their attention while they lifted themselves up on their perfect pedestal. I may not be a Tamer, but I am the only person alive who can help you.”
The boy was sobbing so hard now that he could barely breath. The tension in the air grew thick as Borla and Seema tried to figure each other out. He wished not for the first time, that he would have died alongside his family.
“If you do not stop your sniveling, I will grant you that wish,” Borla turned on him.
She did not even realize what had happened until she saw the boys shocked face. Every thought he was having was echoing through her brain as if they were her own. They grew louder and more frantic with every menacing step she took towards him. Her head threatened to split open, the pain was unbearable. She needed the noise to stop. On impulse, she shot fire towards the boy. It wrapped around him like ropes, immobilizing him as she continued to advance. He screamed in pain as the fire tore at his flesh.
Seema watched in awe as the girl walked towards the screaming boy. He knew she was the one who would help him. She could be trained to obey him. He would earn her loyalty by filling the void left behind after he had destroyed her village, but he would have to do it cautiously. She needed to believe that it was her idea to follow his. His face split in to a wicked grin as the screaming finally stopped.
Borla looked down into the boys blank unblinking eyes. Her mind was empty except for her own thoughts. The boy was still alive, but she knew she had pushed him too far. He slumped to the floor as the fire melted away, oblivious to the numerous burns on his flesh. He was just a shell of what he had been. She fell weakly into the closest chair.
“The boy will do whatever you order him to now. You must go to the Wooded Cave. It is there that you will be able to learn more about your gift. I will give you supplies and help you on your way. When you have learned everything that you can there, return to me if you choose and I will teach you all about your heritage and why the Tamers abandoned you. The Wooded Cave will guide you, but only I can give you the answers you seek.”
Borla nodded weakly. She had never heard of the Wooded Cave, but if Seema was strong enough to kill all of the Tamers she was not going to question his methods. She needed to know why she was left in that village and Seema seemed like the only way she was going to get those answers. She did not fully trust the strange man, but knew she could use him. After he served his purpose, he could join the boy in serving her. Her weakness and shock started to fade away as her steely resolve to get answers and revenge grew.